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‘West Virginia Governor Denies Request’ for Abortion Vote ‘After Seeing What Happened in Kansas’

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West Virginia's governor resisted calls for a popular vote on abortion rights in the state after Kansas overwhelmingly voted in favor of them.

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On August 16 2022, a screenshot shared to r/WhitePeopleTwitter suggested that the Republican governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, denied a request for a popular vote on abortion rights after witnessing the outcome of the abortion referendum in Kansas:

Tell me you know your ideology is a failure without saying your ideology is a failure from WhitePeopleTwitter

In a post titled “Tell me you know your ideology is a failure without saying your ideology is a failure” a tweet by @Jezebel was featured, and it read: “Tell me you know your ideology is a failure without saying your ideology is a failure.” Only the Twitter screenshot was shared, not a link to to the tweet.

An August 2 2022 NPR article (“Voters in Kansas decide to keep abortion legal in the state, rejecting an amendment”) covered how the abortion vote in Kansas went down:

Voters in Kansas rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment Tuesday [August 2 2022] that would have said there was no right to an abortion in the state, according to The Associated Press.

Kansas was the first state to vote on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization [on June 24 2022].

President Joe Biden hailed Tuesday [August 2 2022]’s vote and called on Congress to pass a law to restore nationwide abortion rights that were provided by Roe.

On August 16 2022, Jezebel (@Jezebel) published the tweet in the screenshot, linking to an article on Jezebel.com of the same name:

The linked piece began with background about the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling, which superseded and functionally overrode Roe v. Wade — a decision often framed as “leaving the decision” whether to keep abortion legal “to individual states.” Not long after Dobbs, Kansas voted in favor of access to abortion — a circumstance the Jezebel piece said informed the purported reluctance of West Virginia’s governor to hold a similar vote in the state:

After the fall of Roe v. Wade, some conservatives are apparently fine with “sending abortion back to the states,” but only if it means leaving the decision to gerrymandered state legislatures and not the actual voters in those states. West Virginia Governor, party-switcher, and bulldog humiliator Jim Justice (R) said Monday [August 15 2022] that he opposes a suggestion from Democratic lawmakers to put abortion access on the ballot in a referendum, according to the Associated Press. And of course he does, considering what happened when Kansas did it.

The state’s pre-Roe abortion ban is being blocked by a judge, and Republicans failed to pass a bill criminalizing abortion in a special session this summer [of 2022]. Democrats asked Justice on [August 12 2022] to hold another special session so they could consider a resolution on a constitutional amendment (read: a ballot measure that would go to a popular vote) for “reproductive freedom.” The AP said Justice “scoffed” at the idea and said state abortion law is under the purview of the legislature and the attorney general, only. No democracy allowed.

On August 15 2022, the Associated Press published “WVa governor: Voters shouldn’t decide abortion access issue,” detailing Governor Justice’s reluctance to allow West Virginia residents to directly vote on abortion rights:

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice scoffed Monday [August 15 2022] at a suggestion by Democratic lawmakers to let voters decide whether abortion should continue to be allowed in the state.

The Republican governor said the state’s abortion law falls under the scrutiny of the Legislature and the attorney general.

During a legislative special session initiated by Justice [in July 2022], majority Republicans failed to pass legislation criminalizing abortion.

On Friday [August 12 2022], top Democrats asked Justice and leading GOP lawmakers to bring the Legislature back to consider a resolution to allow voters to consider a constitutional amendment for “reproductive freedom.”

Justice wanted no part of that.

“Unfortunately, this place is surrounded with constant grandstanding,” the governor said at a news conference. “I think that’s what the Democrats are doing.”

On August 15 2022, West Virginia-based WOWK reported that state Democrats were seeking a popular vote on the matter. That reporting reiterated Gov. Justice’s opposition to a vote:

“The Republicans have a super-majority in both the House and the Senate. They were unable to pass a single bill in the special session. I think it’s too important for politicians to be deciding. We’re simply saying, ‘Let the people vote!’” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha, and Chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party.

[…]

The ballot measure idea comes after a successful effort in Kansas [in August 2022]. Even though Kansas is a very “red state,” voters there blocked an effort to make abortion illegal. Again, there will be no similar measure on the ballot in West Virginia, at least not this year [2022].

An August 16 2022 post to Reddit’s r/WhitePeopleTwitter claimed that the West Virginia’s Republican governor opposed calls from state Democrats for a popular vote on abortion after “what happened in Kansas”; on August 2 2022, a ballot measure in Kansas resulted in voters overwhelmingly voting in favor of access to abortion. Democratic Party lawmakers in West Virginia provided statements to local reporters, requesting a similar abortion vote for residents of West Virginia. Gov. Jim Justice was quoted by local news outlets and the Associated Press, describing calls by state Democrats for a ballot measure “grandstanding.”